VPN: Long Distance Networking

What is a VPN and when should you use one?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a private network that uses a public telecommunication infrastructure (most often the Internet) as its method of transport. Companies implement VPNs to allow users in diverse locations to access data as if they were within the corporate walls.

Using a VPN, a home worker in Podunk or a remote office in Biloxi can access the big city corporate network, whether it’s across the state, on the other side of the country, or halfway around the world.

VPNs use encryption or other secure methods to ensure that data is safeguarded within the network. The data remains within the connection between authorized computers, while those dreaded hackers and other heinous evildoers are locked outside.

Before the advent of VPNs, companies commonly used leased lines (such as T-1 and ISDN) to create wide area networks (WANs). Current VPNs make use of the Internet, to provide viable networking solutions over long distances.

VPN service providers include AT&T, Avaya, Blue Ridge, Covad, MegaPath, Nokia, Qwest, Sprint, Verio, and XO, among others.